NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
CHAIRMAN JAMES: Michael S.
MICHAEL S.: Yes. Good evening. My name is Michael S., and I am a compulsive gambler, and I made my last bet on September 5th of 1994, and I'm going to say what's been said already. I am not for or against the casinos. I do not want to see them shut down.
People can gamble normally. I cannot, and I'm going to tell a little tale, and this is a tale about a 14 year old boy that entered Atlantic City and stood in front of the Playboy Casino and stood in front of the glass and watched his grandparents gamble, and from that moment on, that's all he wanted for the rest of his life.
And the tale gets so interesting and so great that when he was 15, he became a regular at the casinos, and people say, "How did you get in and how did you do this and how did you do that? Where did the money come from?"
Well, it's a very simple story. I stole it. I conned it. I took anything I could.
My mother wore a wedding ring on her finger. I took it off and sold it so that I may gamble. My parents had key locks on every door in their house because their son was a thief. They could not allow him into anything that wasn't nailed down.
The story gets better. By 17, I'm in the casinos three and four nights a week. School means nothing to me at this point. I barely graduate. All I wanted to do was gamble.
And then I graduated to a new level of getting money, not by working, by conning and cheating, robbing prostitutes on Atlantic Avenue, taking them back to the rooms that I was getting comped at 17 years old in these wonderful casinos. Okay?
Ending up in jail by 19 for credit card fraud, for bank fraud. By 21 attempting suicide, waking up in a hotel -- in a hospital four days later, and the doctor says to me, "I have no idea how you lived through this. You took a bottle of pills at nine o'clock at night. We found you at ten o'clock the next morning. We have no idea."
But then remarkably, on September 5th in 1994, I decided to give Gamblers Anonymous one more chance. I decided that maybe I did deserve a life, and that's what I did, and I haven't made a bet since then.
And my live has meaning today, and I have some of the greatest things. I heard somebody say that they work at the casino and they just bought a house. Well, I make settlement on my house in two weeks, something I never thought I'd ever be able to do.
What a great life I have. I have a wonderful wife, three great children, and I have that because I don't gamble. I don't tell my wife not to gamble. I don't tell others, but all I say is if it wasn't for the efforts of Gamblers Anonymous, for rehab. centers, and the Council on Compulsive Gambling in this and other states, I would not be alive today, and that's all I have.
Thank you very much.
CHAIRMAN JAMES: Thank you.